As a coach, there’s always room for self-improvement — no matter where you are in your life and in your practice. Whether you’re looking to bolster your professional skills, work on close relationships, or cultivate better tools to use with your clients, continual education is essential if you want to be a successful coach.
That might sound like a lot but don’t worry! There are numerous ways to “learn on the job” as a life coach. And no, we don’t mean watching TED Talks during your sessions (that would be pretty unprofessional).
“So what can I do outside of my life coaching sessions to really improve my craft?” you may ask. Well, we feel that looking to those who have already accomplished great results in the field is an excellent place to start! And there’s no easier way to do that than stacking up on the best life coaching books.
So Where Should I Start With My Life Coach Reading List?
Many of the world’s most successful life coaches and companies put out free information to spark inspiration and creativity in aspiring coaches.
However, the best information for life coaches is often found on the pages of the books that line our library shelves.
Books on how to be a life coach offer guidance on your career, health, and business. They’re also there for future reference should you ever need a new boost of energy and wisdom in your coaching practice. After all, even if you’re a life coach at the top of your field, the idea that you never stop learning certainly rings true.
So if you’re trying to tackle a career slump or simply want to learn more about the ins and outs of coaching, we’ve compiled a list of the best books about life coaching and personal development that are accessible today.
Whether you’re after some guidance on self-development or need a helping hand with developing a successful coaching practice, you’re sure to find some pearls of wisdom hidden in the pages of these wonderful books.
What makes a good life coaching handbook?
Before diving into our fabulous list of the best life coaching books, we thought we’d briefly touch upon what makes a book useful.
Life coaches that are new to the game can often find themselves crippled by the fear of failure or a lack of direction. Though these thoughts can sometimes lead to positive changes, it’s difficult to channel these emotions when you already lack perspective…
Enter: life coaching books.
At Paperbell, we believe that the best life coaching books are influential and have a great story to tell. Though life coaching is very individual, checking out another coach’s success story can make a huge difference when you’re setting up your own business!
We feel that the best life coaching books offer something that can be sorely missing from courses and blogs. Though we’d like to believe that the road to success is a straight line, it’s usually a path filled with trial and error!
These professionals have walked the path you’re on, and they share a ton of…
- Coaching habits
- Coaching skills
- Coaching techniques
- Coaching models
…to help you advance as a life coach.
What makes some of the books below so wonderful is that they showcase how rewarding battling through those tough moments can be while also providing practical advice.
So, ready to be inspired? Let’s go!
12 Best Life Coaching Books
- Co-Active Coaching – Laura Whitworth, Henry Kinsey-House, Phil Sandahl, and John Whitmore
To kick off our list of the best life coaching books, we thought we’d begin with Co-Active Coaching by Laura Whitworth, Henry Kinsey-House, Phil Sandahl, and John Whitmore. The combined knowledge of these coaching geniuses has made this book a must-read text since its publication in 1998.
What we love about this life coaching book is that it’s written by the founders of The Coaches Training Institute, so the methods and tools used within this book are proven to work well with clients.
In addition to this, if you’re looking to pursue a life coaching career without becoming licensed, then this book acts as an excellent reference guide for any nasty roadblocks.
Hooray for resourcefulness!
This is an excellent choice for newbies and professionals alike, perhaps, the most fleshed-out guide that you’ll find outside of an actual coaching program.
- Transformational Life Coaching – Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott and Lynn U. Stewart
Another one of the gold-standard life coaching books is Transformational Life Coaching. If you’re looking for the “OG” guide to coaching, then look no further than this near-biblical text.
This life coaching book will teach you how to navigate the coaching profession, how to turn negative experiences into successes, and how to engage with your clients in a meaningful way. It’s an exquisite all-rounder and is possibly the best option out there for those looking to make outstanding coach-client connections.
Another useful resource that we had to mention is The Life Coaching Handbook from Curly Martin. This life coaching book is based on the teachings of the ABNLP (American Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming) and is an excellent tool for those seeking inspiration. As The Life Coaching Handbook is packed with ideas and tools for coaches, it’s a great book to have in your arsenal if you’ve got a client who isn’t responding to your usual methods.
- Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills – Tony Stoltzfus
We couldn’t create a list of the best life coaching books available without including Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills by Tony Stoltzfus! As you may have guessed from the title, this book is all about how to ask powerful questions. As much of the coaching profession revolves around the coach-client relationship and the ability for both to navigate life’s roadblocks together, this book is a great tool for those wanting to hone their interpersonal skills.
- Walks of Life – Jill Fratto
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to becoming a life coach, then we highly recommend checking out Walks of Life by Jill Fratto. This book is excellent at breaking down the business side of coaching, and clearly explains start-up costs, charging rates, and business licensing considerations that can puzzle even the most experienced coaches.
What’s more, aside from being one of the more practical life coaching books on the market, Walks of Life is great for igniting your entrepreneurial spirit. With all the information you’ll need to hit the ground running, this book is an inspiration incarnate!
- Becoming a Professional Life Coach- Lessons from the Institute for Life Coach Training – Diane S. Menendez Ph.D. and Patrick Williams Ed.D
One of the best resources for coaches when it comes to the practical side of things is Becoming a Professional Life Coach. Though we won’t go so far as to call this the ultimate manual for becoming a coach, the sheer level of knowledge that this book imparts makes it worth purchasing.
Covering everything from the birth of coaching to the fundamentals of listening and session prep, this book is an amazing reference guide for any coach that we highly recommend picking up.
- Prosperous Coach – Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler
If you’re on the hunt for an exceptional coaching guide, “Prosperous Coach” by Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler is a game-changer. This invaluable book from 2013 not only delves into the art of coaching but also shows you how you can build a thriving six-figure coaching business. Yes, you heard that right!
This incredible duo explains how you can take your coaching abilities to the next level. To show your clients what they cannot see and tell them what no one else would dare to say so that they can get the transformational they seek.
The clients of Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler include Olympic athletes, CEOs, Hollywood film directors, Special Forces operatives, serial entrepreneurs, and high-level coaches. In the Prosperous Coach, they share their profound insights and strategies that can transform your coaching career. With a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience, this book is a must-read for those seeking to excel in the world of coaching and build a prosperous practice.
The Best Self-Development Books for Life Coaches
Though the books that we’ve mentioned above are great teaching guides for coaches, sometimes you need a push from different sets of hands. Life coaching relies on constant self-improvement and development, so if you’re feeling out of sorts with your sense of self, then be sure to consider some of the books below for an additional nudge.
You may have heard of this highly successful life coaching book before. When this book was initially published back in 1989, it was a revelatory hit and continues to have the same effect today. Teaching coaches how to be proactive, chart a course, and handle difficult personal questions, this book is an excellent tool that encourages readers to address their fundamental behaviors and forge their own successful path in life. Count us in!
- The Power of Self-Coaching: The Five Essential Steps to Creating the Life You Want – Dr. Joseph J. Luciani
If you’re after an excellent general life coaching book, then look no further than this gem from Dr. Joseph J. Luciani. Not only does this handy book help you to identify problem areas within your current practice that will make you a better coach, but it also helps encourage the use of tools in your own life that you can then use with clients. Though these are lofty promises, Dr. Luciani is a practicing clinical psychologist and certainly knows his stuff.
- The Code of the Extraordinary Mind – Vishen Lakhiani
For those seeking an extraordinary transformational journey, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani is a must-read. This enlightening book helps you identify areas in your life with immense growth potential and equips you with the tools to overcome your limiting beliefs.
It opens your eyes to how you have been shaped by your parents, environment, and society as a whole and guides you through a practical process of choosing your own conscious beliefs — instead of the ones that aren’t serving you anymore.
With Mindvalley CEO Vishen Lakhiani’s profound insights and expertise in personal transformation, this book is a beacon of wisdom for those ready to embark on an extraordinary path of self-discovery and empowerment. No wonder it became a New York Times bestseller.
The Best Health Coaching Books
Though we’ve focused mainly on general and instructional coaching books, we thought we’d briefly touch upon our two favorite health coaching books!
- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe – Christopher McDougall
One of the best books for health coaches is undoubtedly Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Guaranteed to take you by surprise with its brazen discussion of the human mind and spirit, it’s an inspirational read that will motivate any client currently stuck in a health rut.
- The Intuitive Eating Workbook – Evelyn Tribole
The other life coaching book that we feel is crucial for health coaches is The Intuitive Eating Workbook. Though this one is slightly controversial in some circles due to its total overhaul of diet culture, for life coaches who are looking to guide clients toward a healthy relationship with their bodies, this is a must-read.
Offering a comprehensive and evidence-based program that helps coaches understand the connection between mind and body, this book could be the ultimate game-changer.
Bonus: 3 Additional Books Life Coaches Love
We felt that this list couldn’t be complete without these two classics. Although they aren’t known as life coaching books, they provide tremendous insights and wisdom on courage and vulnerability, something that we’re sure all your clients could use more of.
- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
Though this isn’t marketed as a life coaching book, we feel that it deserves a place on our list due to its revolutionary approach to life’s great challenges. Life coaches often find themselves paralyzed by fear of failure, and often, these fears are rooted in past trauma and uncertainty. So, if you feel as though something in you is simply ‘stuck,’ this book may just provide the insight you need to become your best self.
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are – Brene Brown Ph.D.
Have you ever wondered why you approach things in a certain way? Or why your clients aren’t picking up what you’re laying down during your sessions? Well, Brene Brown is an academic expert in human behavior, and she may just have the answers that you’re looking for!
Brown delves into what she calls ‘wholehearted living’ and why this may look different from one person to the next. This book is a wonderful read because it’s excellent for learning about self-compassion, resilience, letting go of comparison, and the danger of self-doubt. Not only will understanding these topics help you to flourish as a coach, but they’ll give you great perspective when dealing with your clients, too!
- The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
This classic by Julia Cameron provides a transformative journey into creativity and personal growth. While not a conventional coaching book, it serves as a powerful resource to unlock the creative potential of your clients and help them overcome obstacles that may be holding them back.
Julia Cameron’s expertise as an artist and writer shines through as she guides readers through a 12-week program designed to unleash their artistic talents and enhance overall well-being. If you want to infuse your coaching practice with a fresh perspective on creativity and self-discovery, this book is a treasure trove of inspiration and practical exercises.
As a coach, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to self-education. Even when life gets busy, coaches should never be complacent when it comes to expanding and perfecting their skill set!
Reading life coaching books remains one of the most powerful tools out there for self-improvement, and trying to harvest new coaching tools is guaranteed to set you apart from the competition.
If we can leave you with one thing to think about, it’s that regardless of where you are on your coaching journey, there are always opportunities to develop advanced skills and better understand the world around you.
So, keep adding to that reading list, as you never know what hidden gems you may uncover within the pages of a book!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2020 and has since been updated for accuracy.